North St. Louis has a people problem, not a dog one, says Randy Grim

Whom to believe? St. Louis politicians who say their communities are overrun with feral canines? Or the man who's been left the task of managing stray dogs in St. Louis after the city closed its animal pound last summer?

Last week, Board of Aldermen president Lewis Reed told reporters that he's witnessed packs of wild dogs — ten to fifteen large — roaming the streets of north St. Louis. A few days earlier, Alderman Antonio French posted a video clip on YouTube showing stray dogs roaming near where kids stood waiting for a school bus in north city. Fellow north-city alderman Charles Quincy Troupe has called on the city to round up and kill the dogs.

Listening to the politicians, you get the sense that north St. Louis could double as a scene from Wild Dogs of the Serengeti. But is it really that bad? And are the dogs really the problem?

Randy Grim, founder of animal shelter Stray Rescue, says no. He contends that the problem is the people — in particular the people of north St. Louis — who are absolutely clueless on how to care for their pets and obey animal regulations. He points to one disturbing call he made two weeks ago after a woman called the city to complain about her own two dogs. Grim and his rescue team found one of the dogs so starved that it could barely walk. They discovered the other dog, barely breathing, in the alley Dumpster behind the house.

"She told us that she had thrown the other dog away," recalls Grim. "She said it as nonchalantly as someone might comment on the weather."

But it's what the woman said next that completely floored Grim: She told him that she hoped her next dog would be a Yorkie.

"Right then I had an epiphany," says Grim, who's been rescuing stray animals in St. Louis for twenty years. "I wasn't angry with her. What do you do when a person doesn't know they did anything wrong? The answer, to me, is that we need to address the real problem — and that's the people."

Grim and his executive assistant, Jennie Foster, rushed the two dogs to Stray Rescue's downtown shelter. The dog found in the Dumpster, whom they named "Our Little Boy," died on the operating table from severe malnourishment. His sister, "Our Little Girl," survived but remains a walking skeleton, her ribs and bones protruding from her skin, as Grim and his volunteers attempt to nurse the animal back to health.

Grim was so moved by the story of what happened to the two dogs that he shared it on Stray Rescue's website. He didn't mince words, writing:

We should be disgusted and disgraced at what we have let happen and have allowed to become part of many people's daily lives...abuse to our four-legged companion animals. There is no support to change north St. Louis. No money nor education. There is just us to clean up their messes and cry. I live in an ignorant city. The problem is primarily in north city.

With "Our Little Girl" at his side last week, Grim explained his rationale to Daily RFT. After Mayor Francis Slay made the decision to close the city's animal shelter on Gasconade Street last year, Stray Rescue began receiving citizen calls to the city complaining about stray dogs and other animal concerns. Today Stray Rescue fields about 200 such referrals a month from the city's Citizens' Service Bureau. Grim says that the vast majority of those calls — around 90 percent — come from north St. Louis.

"You see an uptick in calls in the morning and then again in the evening when people come home," says Grim. "They let their dogs out to roam. We'll respond to a call, and people will yell, 'Hey, that's my dog.' So then you have to ask, 'OK, which dogs do you want us to pick up?'"

Grim disagrees with Reed and others in the Board of Aldermen who say that the dogs are feral. "They're not wild," he says. "They're their constituents' dogs."

As Grim sees it, the city is at least partially to blame for people's attitude toward their pets. For the past 40 years, he says, the city would come and collect dogs when the owner no longer wanted the animal. In doing so, the city bred a culture of people treating pets as though they were disposable. He recalls going to a home where a man admitted shooting a dog he no longer wanted.

So, how to address the larger problem of human ignorance and cruelty toward animals? Grim says that, in a perfect world, four things would happen:

1. The city would open a new facility for bite dogs and other canines viewed as a threat to humans.

2. Stray Rescue and other city shelters — including the Humane Society — would handle the rest of the dogs, working together to house and adopt out animals.

3. St. Louis would employ at least two police officers whose sole job would be to investigate animal complaints. (Grim says he no longer calls police to report animal abuse because most cops are ignorant of the law. "It's like a game of Russian roulette," he says. "Some officers would take it seriously; others would laugh at me.")

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21 comments
Projerk
Projerk

Problems with the peoples of Norf city? Thats unpossibles......Norf city resident are real contributors to society.......just dribe dem streets and you will see.

riverview99
riverview99

interesting article if you read it as an overview of the northside and the people who live there.in a more general sense it could explain why some of the children growing up there are the way they are. need some education there. (not a conversation that anybody be stayin there would get into, huh?)

James Hodges
James Hodges

Seems to me what they really need to address is the issue of feral people roaming the streets of St. Louis...

Vlamprecht
Vlamprecht

I went to one hearing at City Hall on the possibility of specifically collected tax funds to be issued to Stray Rescue. It seems that the aldermen that were opposed to this were the same people that squawk the loudest about the stray dog issue. It seems like a circular puzzle that will never be solved. The dogs, most of them used to be some human's pet, don't understand why they don't have a home anymore. They just know they are not wanted and must attempt to fend for themselves after being disowned. What is wrong with this picture? They need a home that can and will love them after they've grown out cute puppy stage, feed them, give them the mediical care they need when required. It is the people, the ones that dumped the dog, that are the problem. If the dog becomes mean, it was a person that made them mean.

MeSoHungry
MeSoHungry

I'm sure there's plenty of Chinese restaurants in the city that would be more than happy to take any spare dogs people have lying around.

Istaybroke Change
Istaybroke Change

More Cops and fire fighters? Stray Dogs.? I just bonded my dog out? Sounds like this city Needs A second source of Revenue. I got this Ideal?http://www.fatttrixx.com/reven... ?

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1B4IGO
1B4IGO

I ADOPTED IN 6/11 & VOLUNTEER AT THE SHELTER. IF YOU SAW THE CONDITION OF ALOT OF THE RESCUED ANIMALS YOU WOULD BE SAD AND ANGRY AS WELL. PLEASE DO NOT BE UPSET WITH MR. GRIM. HE HAS BEEN FIGHTING AN UPHILL BATTLE FOR 20 YEARS WITH NO HELP FROM THE CITY. THIS IS A SOCIAL PROBLEM THAT CAN EASILY BECOME BITTER. IT IS VERY FRUSTRATING. WHERE DO YOU BEGIN TO FIX THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM? DO YOU MAKE SPAYING AND NUTERING OF MUTS A LAW? DO YOU HAVE A BACKGROUD CHECK? SHOULD WE MAKE A CERTIAN INCOME OR KEEPING TRACK OF OUR PET INFO? HOW DO YOU EDUCATE, A PET IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT? THE DEMOGRAPHICS ARE A FACT!

Skampkidwell
Skampkidwell

people on the northside are the nicest people ever! I cut through a few streets there to get home and harldy anyone yells racial slurs at me or threatens me. Must be turning their attention to the dogs instead of us outlander whiteys

citymom59
citymom59

I live in North city and am offended by the statements Randy Grim had made. I have been a vet tech here for over 27 years, and have seen and heard of just as many stray dogs in rural areas as in the city. The problem with the city stray dogs is that the city's population is more concentrated than the county or rural areas. Therefore, they become a greater problem because they have a higher incidence of coming in contact with people, especially children. My friend, who raises sheep, is constantly losing lambs to stray dog packs in Franklin county. I agree that education is a major problem everywhere. We have become a disposable society with possessions, animals, and even people. Why isn't Randy coming into the city and offering free classes on animal care? He does not know the people he is accusing of being the problem. He does not care about the people he accuses. He does not know nor understand their lives or situations. It is easy to sit on the outside and point fingers. HE is also part of the problem. Come to the city and get to know the neighborhoods. I have fallen in love with my neighborhood and the people. Take your $100K and start being part of the solution. If not, then step aside and suport those who are trying.

Justice for all
Justice for all

Just stop it. Come on guys, look at the statistics. What district aldermen are calling for assistance? What district residents are calling for assistance? Do the numbers you come up with the numbers of what district of a city needs the most help. Put your race cards away. Be glad there is someone in this city that gives a damn about the animals and us having safe neighborhoods. Pleaseeeee!!!!!!

Jinx
Jinx

Ummm...No he doesn't. What he thinks is generally a true statement. The majority of the people in these neighborhoods are completely incapable of properly takin care of a dog. The race card gets thrown around way too much now these days and for no reason whatsoever.

I own a dog and live in East Saint Louis, the problem persists there at an even more alarming rate. When people are tired of taking care of their dogs, they let them off the leash and let them roam the streets. Something has to be done to educate the people first. To get them to realize what they're doing is just wrong.

Retired1
Retired1

This Grim dude sounds like an unstable animal hoarding racist to generalize the people of North St Louis like that! I wouldn't give him a penny because he seems unstable to me!

RETIRED1
RETIRED1

Projerk,I'm surprised you haven't blown yourself up in your trailer park while making meth!!

susieque2
susieque2

It's like this: If your mom and dad have a family pet that they keep for it's lifetime and let it be your friend when you're a kid, you don't have any problem realizing that animals have emotions, personalities and issues of their own. If you grew up with no pets, an animal may seem like a possession, like the gas grill or a new outfit. The poverty on the North Side keeps a lot of people from having stable homes. Some disaster happens and then the family is facing eviction and the pets go ??? You have to explain this to the kids and what one says is that the animal is a possession like any other and it has to go. My income has been all over the economic scale and I know how it is. I haven't done this before, though, because I grew up in an environment where when you make a commitment, you keep it. I've lived in some where people don't. I've lived in some where folks aren't able or don't know how.Schools have too much to teach already, but some reference in the testbooks about how animals are our friends, etc. would be helpful. There are unfortunately behavourists out there who believe that animals (and people) act only on instinct. They believe that animals do not feel emotional pain or suffer. This is a result of their belief in Occam's Razor. It says that the simplest answer is the best. It is the hole that small minded, lazy and stupid individuals crawl into whenever they are asked to think about something in a deep way. It makes it easy for educated researchers to do horrific animal experiments and it makes it easy for some poor parent to dump their dog in the trash after not feeding it for three or four months, or starving it all of it's life and tell everyone some nice story about what happened.

 
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